The world is a scary place for first-time moms.

Sure, I've harbored normal, rational fears throughout my life like those of thunderstorms, horror films and Barney. But now, there seems to be danger lurking everywhere. Seemingly innocent toys become choking hazards (what crazy person invented Polly Pockets anyway?) and once-benign locales like sandboxes taunt me like disease-riddled death traps.

These fears have created some new enemies for me, such as the people with no concept of personal space who try to kiss your newborn baby in the grocery store.

My daughter, Nicole, is now 17 months old and I worry a little less about strangers accosting her, but I still face a slew of new and worthy adversaries that I have pared down to my top four enemies as a first-time mom.

• The Sun — I have spent the majority of this summer lathering Nicole up with gallons of SPF 75, which I believe is only a few chemical compounds shy of being an actual shirt.

On a recent trip to New York, for example, we spent most of our time skulking like vampires through the streets and ducking behind falafel kiosks for shade. I even found a way to contort my body so that Nicole was protected by my shadow.

• WebMD— Oh, WebMD, how I hate you ... and love you. You're always there, just waiting for me to obsess about Nicole's rash or a fever. You taunt me with your endless knowledge, horrifying pictures and vague symptoms that could describe a common cold or a fatal case of pneumonia. But as much as you are my enemy, I can't live without you or our late nights together.

• Sassy toys — I don't like when kids have attitude (you can usually spot these kids because they are wearing shirts that say things like "Diva in training.") So, I am terrified of all of these toys that seem to promote this sassy culture. The worst offender is a line of "Bratz" dolls featuring unnaturally skinny girls with enough eye-shadow to be a street walker and skirts short enough to send G.I. Joe into a hormone frenzy. They even have Bratz Babyz now that wear what I can only assume is a coconut bra — ah yes, a staple for any toddler's wardrobe.

I just know that one day my sweet little girl will beg me to buy a Bratz doll because all her friends have one, and I'll say no. I'll have to go toe-to-toe with one of those little Bratz one day. Until then, we stare each other down whenever I walk through the toy aisle and I try to act tough.

• Myself — This is Public Enemy No. 1 for me, and I bet for many first-time moms. Everywhere I turn there's something I could be doing better — using cloth diapers instead of Pampers, cutting out scrapbook doilies instead of chucking all my photos in a box, or remembering to bathe my daughter on a regular basis. You know, the little things.

No matter how good I think I'm doing, there's always that nagging feeling it's not enough. It doesn't help when I get a parenting magazine in the mail with the article about how to make crafts with your kids using only an egg carton, some macaroni and a blowtorch. This article usually follows the one on how to lose your baby weight with a fun and easy diet of lettuce and tic-tacs.

So, next time you see a wild-eyed first-time mom in the store, take pity on her. She probably spent half the night on WebMD looking up "infant torso rash" and awoke to a morning news segment on why you're a deadbeat mom if your child isn't potty trained and reading Faulkner novels by age 2. She then darted through the parking lot while cursing the sun, lost a stare-down with a saucy Bratz doll and is now standing bedraggled and exhausted in the checkout line while what is undoubtedly a homeless man tries to give her baby a kiss.


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